The Spirit of Huck & Tom Lives On

July 06, 2017

“It was kind of lazy and jolly, laying off comfortable all day, smoking and fishing, and no books nor study. Two months or more run along, and my clothes got to be all rags and dirt, and I didn’t see how I’d ever got to like it so well at the widow’s, where you had to wash, and eat on a plate, and comb up, and go to bed and get up regular, and be forever bothering over a book, and have old Miss Watson pecking at you all the time. I didn’t want to go back no more. I had stopped cussing, because the widow didn’t like it; but now I took to it again because pap hadn’t no objections. It was pretty good times up in the woods there, take it all around.”    (6.4) Mark Twain, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”


Most of the time our ideas for the week come from interactions in and around the office.  Preoccupations center on school struggles, learning disabilities and related kid stuff.This week’s came on a dog walk.  (Well, here’s Ella after the walk.)

The topic jumped out at me, handed on a silver platter.

Normally I feel pretty bleak about the direction we are going with modern childhood.  I see kid after kid who seems to be increasingly disconnected from social interactions, addicted to screens, “socializing” on video games in their rooms with others they have never met.

I also hear the stories of all of the parental steerage and  the over-involvement with every facet of their child’s life from academic to social and all of the parental preoccupation with sports.

As the Beatles said in one of their trippier songs, “It’s all too much for me to take.”

So, with the state of modern childhood and parenting knocking around in my mind, about a week ago on a gorgeous summer early evening, the Childhood Index went up considerably as Ella (the hound) and I were going around the bend of a picturesque pond that dated back to usage from colonial times, (In fact near the pond are the remains of an old mill dating back to the 1750’s.)

We came upon a pack of boys, about seven of eight of them perhaps around 12 years old.  Ella and I watched them roll in on their bikes (self powered, not motorized) and, wonder of wonders, there were no parents in sight directing them.

No cell phones or iPads came out, yet they were collectively excited to be starting their activity, as they reached into their packs and started pulling out containers of worms and hot dog chunks.

They were about to start fishing!!!!

We couldn’t stop watching.

Eight boys, each one with a fishing rod, bait and no parents anywhere to be found.  They did some of the usual boy stuff, like laughing at the inevitable gas passing, but when their rods bent with the fish biting, the collective boy excitement couldn’t be contained.

When a catfish was pulled out (and dutifully put back in after) I felt the spirit of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer living through the boys.

School was out and the summer sun was still high enough in the sky.

It even inspired me to go to the local library (remember that place) and take out “The Adventures of Huck Finn” for a good summer read.

All was right with the world.

Takeaway Point

A pack of worms, some fishing rods and boys – there’s still hope.

Maybe we haven’t emptied out childhood just yet.

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All comments (2)
  • Pat
    July 08, 2017 at 2:32 am

    If only we could count fishing as a social skills class - the kind where you learn to talk about whatever is on your collective […] Read MoreIf only we could count fishing as a social skills class - the kind where you learn to talk about whatever is on your collective mind without hashtags and tweets attached. Even a "fish tale" about the one that got away will create a bond, a memory etched in stone, including who you were with. With a return to "old times", kids, especially boys. discover they are more alike than different. It's what so many children are missing out on today! So glad we have a stream in the back yard to keep my kids grounded in "the real world." Read Less


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